Poetry  September 2008 | issue 393


by Mark Smith-Soto

Mark Smith-Soto has been working for more than sixty years to write a perfect poem and doesn’t plan to quit anytime soon. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

In Venezuela, which means “Little Venice”: thousands
Snuffed, mud-choked. Corpse after corpse, dug up
To be reburied, waits for a name. A mild impatience
Marks the morning hours, the medical jeeps, the kids
With picks, the smeared survivors staring. Television
Doesn’t know how to blink: a tumbled wall, a dog,
A hand and elbow remarkably whole and clean,

All pour into its open drain without clogging the flow. 
And I too am capable of taking it all — five thousand
Miles away, each detail fits behind my forehead, where
I can find a word for it. And though my body knows
The black weight mud must bring, it has forgotten
Tears. Or buried them so deep they can’t be found,
Way down below the heart, somewhere in there.




Personal. Political. Provocative. Ad-free. Subscribe today.